Composer Matthew Rooke was born in England to Scottish and Gabonese parents. This heritage is reflected in his musical work which is built upon a foundation of contemporary classical music and draws upon African and Celtic elements and influences. For example, as a teenage double bass player he was a member of the Kent County Youth Orchestra whilst also performing alongside folk artists such as Jane Thackeray and twice winning the Cleo Laine Award for Jazz. Initially intending to study music at St Andrews he ultimately took his first degree in Philosophy there followed by a Robert T Jones Graduate Fellowship to Berklee College of Music in Boston Mass, where he also won the Berklee Professional Music and Abe Laboriel Bass award, studying composition and orchestration
On his return to the UK Matthew Rooke held a two-year appointment by Gavin Bryars at the Leicester Haymarket Theatre and subsequently established a career as performer and composer/orchestrator in theatre and increasingly in opera also. He has been commissioned by companies as diverse as The Royal National Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Talawa Theatre Company and he has performed/recorded as a featured instrumentalist with artists as diverse as Sir John Tavener, the acclaimed Asian composer/musician Nitin Sawney, James Taylor and English folk violinist Ric Sanders (Fairport Convention). His music has been performed by leading orchestras such as The Royal Northern Sinfonia and National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. Over the past decade his focus has been primarily on opera, with his own work "Flyting" being the product of his time as inaugural composer in residence at Perth Concert Hall. In addition he has focussed on re-conceiving large scale works for smaller forces and through Berwick Festival Opera has produced and directed new scores for a range of operas spanning Purcell, Donizetti, Mozart and Sullivan. Recent commissions include a companion piece for Debussy's Trio for flute harp and viola; "An a Craw can Sing anaw" a concertino for Bass Clarinet and strings, premiered by NYoS, and other orchestral and vocal works. As such Rooke's work very much reflects the spirit of contemporary cultural life, spanning genres and a diversity of cultures but at its core with a deep understanding of the techniques (and love for) classical music's rich heritage creating work that is able to be embraced by people from diverse traditions and backgrounds.
Herald Angel Award winner Jack Furness studied music at Cambridge University, where he received a double first-class honours degree. Whilst at Cambridge, Furness founded the ambitious and innovative Shadwell Opera, of which he is Artistic Director.
With Shadwell, Furness has directed Albert Herring at Opera Holland Park; Die Zauberflöte, which won an RBS Herald Angel Award at the 2009 Edinburgh Fringe Festival; Speech Acts – a double-bill of George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill and Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale – at the Courtyard Theatre; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Jonathan Dove’s Siren Song; Cosi fan tutte; and In the Penal Colony at the Arts Theatre, Leicester Square.Other recent directing credits include Amadis de Gaule for University College Opera; Eugene Onegin for Ryedale Festival Opera; Falstaff for Opera Integra; I Found My Horn for the Marlowe Society; and two short opera films for Shadwell Opera that were broadcast on Channel 4 last year and watched by over 400,000 people nationwide. More recently, he has directed a promotional film for Blackheath Community Halls Opera. In the 2015-16 season, Furness was the Emerging Artistic Director for Scottish Opera.
Furness has a busy assisting schedule, having assisted directors such as Sir David McVicar and Yoshi Oida at companies including the Glyndebourne Festival, Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Opera North and Scottish Opera. This season he assists on L’Elisir d’Amore and a new production of Der Rosenkavalier both at the Royal Opera House
Sian Edwards is a major conductor pursuing an international career. Edwards studied at the RNCM and with Professor A.I. Musin at the Leningrad Conservatoire. In September 2013 she took up the role of Head of Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music. She has worked with many of the world’s leading orchestras including Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland, Orchestre de Paris, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Berlin Symphony, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, MDR Leipzig, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Royal Flanders Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta, the Hallé, and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. She has a close relationship with Ensemble Modern in Germany.
Recent and future concert engagements include performances with Ensemble Modern, Bayerische Rundfunk in Munich, SWR Sinfonieorchester Freiburg, Kuopio Symphony, Turku Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, Musikfabrik, Landesjugendorchester Berlin, Deutscher Musikrat, Milton Keynes City Orchestra, Palestinian Youth Orchestra, Edinburgh Youth Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, BBC National Orchestra of Wales as well as performances at the Edinburgh International Festival, the Royal College of Music and a tour of the UK with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee . Recent and future operatic engagements include The Rape of Lucretia and La Traviata for the Theater an der Wien, Orlando, a new ballet, for the Staatstheater Stuttgart, The Rake’s Progress and Bluebeard’s Castle for Scottish Opera, Ades’ The Tempest for Oper Frankfurt, and a concert performance of Tippett’s King Priam at the Brighton Festival. She has recently contributed to a new film by Tony Palmer on Holst.
Hannah is a set and costume designer working in theatre, opera and dance. She originally trained as a painter at The Glasgow School of Art and worked as a scenic artist on several film productions. Since then, Hannah has enjoyed a freelance career as a costume supervisor with companies including Scottish Opera, National Theatre Scotland and Scottish Ballet. In 2014 she graduated with an MA in Theatre Design from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
Previous credits include: Eugenius! The Musical (The Other Palace), Cunning Little Vixen (Royal College of Music), Bullets Over Broadway (Arts Educational Schools), Betrayal (Salisbury Playhouse), FOOD (Finborough Theatre), The Government Inspector (Salisbury Playhouse), Robin Hood (The Egg Theatre, Bath), Peer Gynt (Salisbury Playhouse), King Matt and Macbeth (The Lyceum, Edinburgh), Bells Are Ringing (Arts Educational Schools), Hubbub (Lakeside Arts, Nottingham), Club Noir Presents: A Night at the Opera (Picturehouse Edinburgh), The Innocent Mistress (Bristol Old Vic Studio), Love Steals Us From Loneliness (Brewery Theatre, Bristol), London Road (Bristol Old Vic Studio), Kafka vs. Kafka (Etcetera Theatre, London), The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil (Bristol Old Vic Studio) and Amadis de Gaule (Bloomsbury Theatre, London). Film credits include The Clay Wall, I'll Be Right Here and The Rule Of Thumb (Digicult) and Serenade and Cherubino (Tigerlily films/Shadwell Opera for channel 4).
Roddy obtained a Masters Degree in Visual Communication at Edinburgh College of Art and also worked at the college for several years as an editing tutor in their Film & TV department. He works principally on moving image, photography and lighting design projects and this year he’s made a music video for indie singer/songwriter Hamish Hawk and two dance films commissioned by The National Library of Scotland for their Scottish School Exams Creative Re-Sits project.
Having previously worked with McOpera on Simoon, The Soldier’s Tale and the Lammermuir Festival’s communiry opera production of Noye’s Fludde, An Cadal Trom will be his fourth moving image project with McOpera; a collaboration which he always finds to be creatively challenging and extremely rewarding.
A graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Music in Glasgow, Andrew is an established singer on the Scottish circuit and is widely in demand. Andrew has been a Scottish Opera Robertson Trust Emerging Artist since the 2012/13 season, where he performed the roles of Bottom (Britten, A Midsummmernight’s Dream) and Samuel (The Pirates of Penzance). Recent engagements include Garibaldo (Rodelinda), Notary (Don Pasquale), Yamadori (Madama Butterfly) and Morales (Carmen) all for Scottish Opera, the title role for Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Barone (La Traviata) for Opera Bohemia, and roles for both English National Opera and Clonter Opera. Future engagements include Lakai (Ariadne auf Naxos) for Opera National de Lorraine. Andrew is also the co-Director of Caledonian Voices, and is Chorus Master to James MacMillan at the Cumnock Tryst.
Glasgow born mezzo soprano Penelope Cousland completed a B.Ed (Hons) in Music Education at the RCS before continuing her studies at the RNCM, where she gained a Master of Music in Vocal and Opera Studies. She returned to the RCS to attend the Alexander Gibson Opera School where she studied with Scott Johnson.
Penelope is a 2016/17 alumna of the National Opera Studio in London where she was supported by the Scottish Opera Endowment Fund, the Glyndebourne New Generation Programme, a Help Musicians UK Tutton Award, the Robertson Scholarship Trust, the South Square Trust and the Mary Gillespie Trust.
Forthcoming engagements include chorus and cover of Mary in Der Fliegende Holländer (Wagner) at the Longborough Festival; chorus in Parsifal, Lohengrin, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Der Fliegende Holländer (Wagner) at the Bayreuth Festival and a world premiere of An Cadal Trom (Matthew Rooke) at the Lammermuir Festival.
Operatic roles include Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro (Mozart); Misstress Quickly in Sir John in Love (Vaughan-Williams); Popova in The Bear (Walton); Mrs Noye in Noye’s Fludde (Britten) and Savitri in Savitri (Holst), Mother Goose and Baba the Turk (cover) in The Rake's Progress (Stravinsky) and Marfa (Cover) in Khovanshchina (Mussorgsky). She has also appeared in scenes as Mother in Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdinck); Miss Jessel in The Turn of the Screw (Britten); Giovanna Seymour in Anna Bolena (Donizetti); Dorabella in Cosi fan Tutte (Mozart); Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress (Stravinsky); Charlotte in Werther (Massenet); Leonora in La Favorita (Donizetti); Mistress Quickly in Falstaff (Verdi); Mme de Croissy in Dialogues des Carmelites (Poulenc); Irene in Tamerlano (Handel); La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica (Puccini) and Madame de la Hautilere in Cendrillon (Massenet). Penelope was part of the 2016 Glyndebourne Festival Chorus. She appeared in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner) and The Cunning Little Vixen (Janaček) where she also covered the role of Pani Paskova. She was part of the 2017 Bayreuther Festspielchor at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany where she appeared in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Parsifal (Wagner).
Penelope was the recipient of the Joaninha Award 2016 and was awarded the John Cameron Prize for Lieder from the RNCM in 2014.
As an experienced concert and oratorio singer her repertoire includes Music Makers and Sea Pictures (Elgar); Messiah (Handel); Petite Messe Solennelle (Rossini); Elijah (Mendelssohn); Requiem (Verdi); A Child of our Time (Tippett) and Requiem (Durufle). Penelope has also participated in masterclasses with Sir Thomas Allen, Catherine Wyn Rogers, Nicholas Kraemer, Felicity Palmer, Donald Runnicles, James Gilchrist and Brigitte Fassbaender.
Moira studied music at Newcastle University where she majored in composition. She gained her Master’s degree in musical directing and conducting in 2010, culminating in a performance art piece premiered at the Sage Gateshead, which she also composed. Moira has conducted and directed Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, Bernstein's West Side Story and Kurt Weill's Mahagonny Songspiel, delivered workshops for Streetwise Opera and vocal coached for Joseph, the King and I and Evita.
Moira has composed and directed for original youth theatre and chamber opera pieces, written for physical theatre and contemporary circus productions and currently works for the National Youth Choir of Scotland in various capacities; running songwriting projects, teaching musicianship and directing the singing groups in Dunbar. Moira's unique style of musical directing is fuelled by her fascination in the relationship between music and movement and the Kodaly method of music education. She has recently created Scotland's first juggling choir - Circus Voices - which she directs and writes for. Moira is the chorus master for Dunbar Voices.
Sue studied Music and English at the University of Birmingham, and has a varied portfolio of activity producing opera, project managing and community outreach with Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland (McOpera) and as a performer (as Section Principal Horn with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera). Recent activity includes Fleishmann/ Shostakovich’s Rothschild’s Violin and the premiere of Erik Chisholm’s Simoon as part of the Cottier Chamber Project, Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, and Britten’s Noye’s Fludde for the Lammermuir Festival.
Sue devises and designs all activity for McOpera Outreach, including bespoke packages for schools, Young Parents’ Projects, Early Years and SEN projects, and commissioned music projects to tie into main scale concert programmes, most recently The Tales Project working with community heritage organisations and children’s chorus.
Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland (McOpera) was formed in the spring of 2012 by musicians from The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, Scotland’s only fully professional opera orchestra, to provide and generate a range of artistically exciting and diverse work in Scotland. Since that time, it has developed a wide portfolio of activity ranging from operatic productions, to bespoke recording projects, orchestral performances and community outreach projects across a wide social and cultural demographic (McOpera Outreach)
Recent activity includes the critically acclaimed (5 star) production of Britten’s community opera Noye’s Fludde (Lammermuir Festival 2016), the Scottish premiere of Fleishmann’s Rothschild’s Violin, the world premiere of Scottish composer Erik Chisholm’s opera Simoon (Cottier Chamber Project 2015, released as a live performance on Delphian label in November 2016), an animated film production of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale with a bespoke commissioned music theatre work by Peter Kemp, and A Song for Haddo for the Haddo Arts Festival 2017. McOpera Outreach has just completed a work experience programme for young musicians in East Dunbartonshire, based on living life as a portfolio musician.
Katie Hull grew up in Dorset, then studied violin in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with David Takeno. She was appointed Principal 1st violin with the Northern Sinfonia at the age of 21, and eight years later moved up to Glasgow where she worked with the Scottish Ensemble and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. She was appointed Assistant Leader of the Orchestra of Scottish Opera in 1996.
She works regularly with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and has been a violin tutor at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for the last 18 years.
She has just completed an MBA at the University of Glasgow.